NFL suspends Josh Gordon indefinitely for substance abuse violation

The NFL has suspended Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Josh Gordon indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Seahawks announced the news Monday afternoon. It is unclear what specific substance prompted Gordon’s suspension.

Gordon joined the Seahawks in Week 10 after being waived midseason by the New England Patriots.

Another setback for troubled receiver

Gordon broke out with the Cleveland Browns after being selected in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft, but has struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues throughout his career.

Signs of his struggles surfaced during his college career at Baylor, where he was suspended indefinitely in 2011 for testing positive for marijuana. He was previously cited for marijuana possession after police say they found him passed out in the passenger seat of a teammate’s car in a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Gordon’s NFL suspension timeline

After Gordon caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, the NFL suspended him for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Despite the two-game ban, Gordon posted a remarkable sophomore effort, with 89 catches for a league-leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns — a performance that announced his status as one of the league’s top talents.

The NFL has suspended Josh Gordon for violating the league's substance abuse policy. (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The NFL has suspended Josh Gordon for violating the league's substance abuse policy. (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

During the 2014 offseason, police in Raleigh, North Carolina arrested Gordon on DWI charges. His blood alcohol level tested at .09, over the legal limit of .08. The NFL later suspended him for the 2014 season before reducing it to 10 games. He played five games for the Browns that season.

Gordon missed all of 2015 and 2016

The NFL suspended Gordon again for the entire 2015 season for another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy after testing positive for alcohol. That suspension prompted Gordon to write an open letter in The Cauldron detailing his background and struggles with substance abuse amid a wave of criticism.

“Most importantly, I have failed myself. Again,” Gordon wrote.

“I failed myself when started using marijuana regularly as a young teenager. I failed myself when I ruined a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be Robert Griffin III’s running mate during his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Baylor. I failed myself when I didn’t check with the league office to ensure that my doctor-prescribed, codeine-based medicine was allowed under NFL guidelines. I failed myself when I was arrested for driving a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit. I failed myself when I missed a team walkthrough late in the season and was suspended for the final game of the year.”

After missing the 2015 season, Gordon reportedly failed another drug test and had his initial reinstatement request for the 2016 season denied. The league eventually extended his suspension through the first four games of the season.

Instead of reporting to the Browns when he was eligible, Gordon entered an in-patient rehab clinic and missed the entirety of a second straight season.

Gordon returned to Browns after rehab stint

Gordon returned to the Browns for the end of the 2017 season after being reinstated by the league. He played five games that season, tallying 18 catches for 335 yards.

Gordon played one game for the Browns in 2018 before the team cut ties with him over reported “trust” issues.

Patriots take chance on Gordon

The Patriots then traded for Gordon for a fifth-round draft pick. Gordon played 11 games that season for New England, tallying 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns.

The NFL suspended Gordon again in December of 2018 shortly after Gordon announced he was taking a break from football to focus on his mental health.

The league reinstated Gordon in time for the start of this season, where he played the first six games in New England, tallying 20 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown. Gordon then landed on injured reserve with a knee injury before the Patriots released him, allowing him to sign with the Seahawks.

Gordon played five games with the Seahawks, tallying seven catches for 139 yards, including a 58-yard catch on Sunday in a win over the Carolina Panthers.

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